National Union of Students wants your customers - BikeBiz

National Union of Students wants your customers

Student bashing will take on a whole new meaning if the studentwheels.com website from the NUS successfully steals customers from bike shops. Ah, but will it? Which IBD-friendly suppliers are going to be daft enough to supply a dotcom that (a) charges a massive fee for inclusion and (b) would seriously erode relations with their IBD network?
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There 3.2 million students in the UK. 90 percent of them use the internet on a regular basis. Many buy goods online. In fact, students are by far the biggest social group to have taken online shopping to heart.

According to the NUS, 76 percent of students own and use bikes. Thats nearly two and a half million students who may be interested in buying from www.studentwheels.com.

Everything with wheels will be sold on studentwheels.com: from scooters to cars (Honda and Ford are said to have signed up). And, of course, bikes.

The site launches on 8th January. The demo site currently features cheap no-name bike brands from Germany. Just like 9feet.com, studentwheels.com would like to be able to sell key brands on the site. And just as 9feet.com was rebuffed, so too will studentwheels.com.

This might have something to do with the fee to jump onboard. For a supplier to get every all of their bikes online would cost £10 000 pounds per year per brand. And they would have to do the fulfilment too.

One supplier who turned studentwheels.com down flat told BikeBiz yesterday that two brands are said, by studentwheels.com, to have signed so far. These were Schwinn/GT and Cycleurope. However, both Mark Perryman, commercial director of Schwinn/GT UK Sales, and Fu Wong of Cycleurope, said that under no circumstances would they be signing up with them.

The largest selection of wheels at the best student prices anywhere on the web, may, therefore soon be an empty promise and may have to be revised when studentwheels.com goes live in the New Year.

Chip Rimmer is the person in charge of getting bike brands to sign with studentwheels.com. He joined the company two weeks ago. He has been out of the trade for two years but was formerly on the marketing team at Schwinn in the Caratti days.

Rimmer doesnt believe studentwheels.com is a threat to IBDs.

No way will it interfere with an IBDs current set-up. People will still want to go into shops.

Would IBDs in Cambridge or Oxford, and other towns with high student populations, agree with him?

Students are often on campuses and its not easy for them to get out to shops and buy the brands they want. We want to stock key brands so students can purchase them more easily.

But, BikeBiz prodded, youre not going to get any key brands, are you?

Other parts of NUS Online have major brands involved. Frankly its the myopic nature of the British bike industry that will stop things. Were offering [bike distributors] a new way of increasing sales to a 17 - 35 year old audience.

If key brands dont get involved, theyll be losing out. Well just get no-name brands in instead even though thats not the object of the exercise.

sales@studentwheels.com

0117 944 5535

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